Christ's Victory Over Sin

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Jesus taught us to say “No” to sin, to flee temptation (1 Corinthians 6:18; 2 Timothy 2:22), and “to make no provision for the flesh” (Romans 13:14). This victory seems impossible for those born in bondage to sin (6:6-7, 19-20). Yet Christ’s victory over sin enables our victory as well.

Satan’s Deception (1 John 2:16)

Our Lord’s temptation took place at the start of his earthly ministry to clearly demonstrate his victory over sin: “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1). Jesus battled the great Deceiver under extremely difficult circumstances: “And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ But he answered, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (vv. 2-4). Satan tempted our Lord with the desires of the flesh: to turn a rock into a piece of bread. Yet Jesus said “No” to this temptation (see Deuteronomy 8:3).

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’ Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test’” (Matthew 4:5-7).

This second time, Satan tempted Jesus with the pride of life and challenged him to prove his deity: “Show the world how important you are to God” (see Psalm 91:11-12). Yet Jesus said “No” to that temptation as well (see Deuteronomy 6:16).

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him (Matthew 4:8-11).

This third time, Satan offered Jesus the wonders of the world—the desires of the eyes. He wanted Jesus to see, covet, take, and hide just as Eve had once failed in the garden (Genesis 3). Satan offered earthly glories in exchange for the worship which only the Creator deserved. Yet Jesus said “No” to this temptation and remained victorious over sin’s desires. He resisted Satan’s half-truths by quoting Scripture back to him and reflecting on his Father’s goodness (see Deuteronomy 6:13).

Application Insight: Learn from Jesus how to say “No” to sin and “resist the devil” (James 4:7). Satan disguises himself as “an angel of light” who designs temptation which appeals to your desires (2 Corinthians 11:14). Therefore, you must defend yourself with the truth of God’s Word and the beauty of his character (1 Peter 5:8-11).

Eve’s Fall (Genesis 3)

Compare Jesus’ victory over Satan to Eve’s defeat in Eden. Although Jesus faced an even greater temptation than Eve, he overcame whereas she succumbed. Eve lived in a paradise surrounded by everything good to eat, while Jesus was in a desert wilderness, his physical body weakened by forty days of fasting. Eve was married to a loving husband who could have strengthened her resolve, while Jesus was alone, without companions. Jesus also endured an even greater temptation because he never gave in like Eve. As in a weightlifting competition, Eve crumpled under only a few pounds of pressure, but Jesus continued going strong as Satan piled on temptation. Thus, the writer of Hebrews could say, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

Application Insight: When you face temptation, rest assured that Jesus has endured the weight of your temptation and even more. He resisted sin through the power of the Holy Spirit and the promise of God’s Word. Follow him and he will give you the strength to stand firm as well.

Christ’s Victory (Matthew 4)

Jesus suffered an even greater temptation than Eve, yet the temptation was the same in kind. As Jesus saw “the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life,” Satan tempted him to covet and to take (1 John 2:16). Here was the first time our Lord ever experienced temptation, for he had been intimately involved in the creation of man and had fellowshipped with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit in the halls of heaven from eternity past (John 1:1-3). Yet in all that time—in all that eternity, he had never been tempted. So, the incarnation was a new experience for the Son of God which allowed him to relate to us more fully. Jesus understands, now by experience, the frail weakness of our humanity. He suffered the same kind of temptation to a greater degree than we would ever face. Thus, Paul exclaims that Christ’s victory enables our own: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Most importantly, Jesus was victorious because he clung to what he believed about his Father. Every sin, rooted in unbelief and false doctrine, traces back to wrong thinking about God and man. Eve, for example, believed the serpent’s deception that God was not good—that he was holding out on them and did not have their best interests in mind (Genesis 3:1-5). Eve believed the serpent’s lie instead of the truth about God. Yet Jesus believed his Father’s Word. With each temptation, he refuted Satan’s lies with Scripture (from the book of Deuteronomy, no less). Satan tempted Jesus to doubt God’s goodness, so Jesus answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4; Deuteronomy 8:3). Satan tempted Jesus to doubt God’s power, so Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test’” (Matthew 4:7; Deuteronomy 6:16). Satan tempted Jesus to doubt God’s glory. Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve’” (Matthew 4:10; Deuteronomy 6:13). Satan could quote the Word of God, but Jesus actually believed it in his heart. Therefore, the power is not in the words themselves, but only when we believe them as the truth and act on them accordingly. As we study God’s Word to the point of understanding, we can say “No” to sin as our thoughts and desires are transformed by what is written in the Scriptures (Romans 12:2).

Application Insight: God’s Word is “the sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17b)—the only offensive weapon in our spiritual battle (vv. 10-13). So, we must not show up to the battle unarmed when Jesus has already given us the pattern for victory (Psalm 119:9). Know God’s Word; Believe God’s Word; Use God’s Word like a sword against your sin (Hebrews 4:12). Only then will you be victorious in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:57-58).


10/28/2022 9:46:58 PM
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  • Tom Sugimura
    About Tom Sugimura
    Tom Sugimura is a pastor-writer, church planting coach, and professor of biblical counseling. He writes at tomsugi.com, ministers the gospel at New Life Church, and hosts the Every Peoples Podcast. He and his wife cherish the moments as they raise their four kids in Southern California.
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